Published: March 1, 2014
Sand Creek guard Mikayla Reese crashed through the lane for contested layups and slammed against the floor for loose balls all game long in the round of 16 at Sand Creek High School.
Yep, she'd do anything for another shot to get past the quarterfinals.
Saturday, the top-seeded Scorpions looked dominant and determined as they sealed their third consecutive trip to the 4A girls' basketball quarterfinals with a 66-56 win over fifth-seeded Evergreen.
It'll be a trip of destiny for most of its players.
Under coach Jamie Carey, Sand Creek (22-3) has lost in the quarterfinals the past two seasons - something Reese and Co. plan to change next Saturday at the Denver Coliseum.
"We are really confident with whoever we play right now," said Reese, who led the offense with 16 points, five rebounds and nine assists. "We think our style can beat anyone's and we want to prove that with whoever we face."
They did Saturday. Sophomore Liah Davis scored 16 points and grabbed 10 rebounds, sophomore Oliana Squires added 14 points and her senior sister J'nae added 12 more as the Scorpions kept the Cougars (17-9) off rhythm on both sides of the court.
Any time Evergreen made an attempt to cut into Sand Creek's lead with a mini-run, Carey's bunch stole the momentum right back with a run of its own.
"I think the girls did a good job of limiting their runs," Carey said. "I always tell them basketball is a game of runs, and we have to win that part of the game."
In the fourth quarter, that meant containing one of 4A's best players, Evergreen's Samantha Kisiel. The Cougars senior - who ended with a game-high 27 points - began the comeback charge and cut the deficit to 54-43 with back-to-back 10-footers early in the frame.
The momentum didn't last long though. Sand Creek answered with three consecutive transition layups as Davis dropped in the first two and Oliana Squires flipped the other high off the glass into the net to give the Scorpions the commanding 60-43 lead with four minutes remaining.
"We showed great poise, especially on that run in the fourth quarter," Carey said. "Our girls played a great game."
Next up, Sand Creek will face the No. 2 Valor Christian in the quarterfinals just two months since beating them by 33.
"Nobody wants to feel the way we have the past couple of years," Reese said. "We're confident and that will keep driving us."